How to Apply for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

Do you have Canadian work experience or have been wanting to live and work in Canada temporarily to gain international experience? Maybe you’ve been considering studying in Canada and are wondering what your permanent residency options are once you’ve graduated?

The Canadian Experience Class, or CEC, could be the answer!

Lets take a look at how to apply for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and why it's so underrated.

How to Successfully Apply for Permanent Residency Through the CEC

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The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is one of three federal economic immigration programs managed by the Express Entry system. It allows skilled workers who have experienced working in Canada for at least one year in the last three years, to apply for permanent residency.

Step 1. Check Your Eligibility

The CEC has four main eligibility criteria:

  • Meet the required language levels needed for your job for each language ability
    • Canadian Language Benchmark 7 for NOC 0 or A jobs or
    • Canadian Language Benchmark 5 for NOC B jobs
      You’ll need language test results for:
      • writing
      • reading
      • listening
      • speaking
    • have at least 1 year of skilled work experience in Canada, in the last 3 years before you apply—you can meet this in a few different ways:
      • full-time at 1 job: 30 hours/week for 12 months = 1 year full-time (1,560 hours) equal amount in part-time work: for example 15 hours/week for 24 months = 1 year full time (1,560 hours)
        • You can work as many part-time jobs as you need to meet this requirement.
      • full-time work at more than 1 job: 30 hours/week for 12 months at more than 1 job = 1 year full time (1,560 hours)
    • have gained your work experience by working in Canada while under temporary resident status with authorization to work
  • Be admissible to Canada

How is work experience calculated?

If you have skilled work experience that you were paid for, including wages or earned commission, your work experience may qualify towards increasing your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. All CEC applicants need to create an Express Entry Profile which will be ranked and given a CRS score before being entered into the Express Entry draw pool with other applicants. Unfortunately, volunteer work or unpaid internships does not count. Any hours you work above and beyond 30 hours per week will not be calculated.

If your work experience was gained working part-time, it can be counted if it equals to about 15 hours per week but it must add up to 1,560 hours in total. You can get the hours you need to apply by working more than one part-time job too.

What is skilled work experience?

Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) defines skilled work experience according to the National Occupational Classification or NOC code:

  • Managerial jobs (skill level 0)
  • Professional jobs (skill type A)
  • Technical jobs and skilled trades (skill type B)

Your experience working in Canada can be one or a combination of more than one type of job at any skill level.

Step 2. Prepare Your Documents

When applying for any Express Entry program, you’ll need different documents to complete different stages, so it’s best to get everything prepared beforehand.

Creating your Express Entry Profile

You’ll need the following documents to help you accurately complete your Express Entry Profile.

  • A passport or travel document
  • Language test results in either English or French or both
  • Proof of Canadian education or an educational credential assessment (ECA) report for immigration purposes if you want to get points for the education you got outside Canada
  • Provincial Nomination or PN (if you have one)
  • A written Canadian job offer (if you have one),
  • Proof of your Canadian work experience and experience outside of Canada (if you have any),
  • Your certificate of qualification in a trade occupation issued by a Canadian province or territory (if you have one)

Applying for permanent residence

If you’re successful and are invited to apply for permanent residency you’ll be required to upload copies of the following documents:

  • Police certificate
  • Medical exams
  • Birth/adopted certificate (if travelling with a dependent child/children)
  • Representative form (if you’re using an RCIC or immigration lawyer)
  • Common-law union form/marriage/divorced/death certificate (if applicable)

Step 3. Submit Your Profile

Now that your forms are complete and you have all your supporting documents ready it’s time to submit your Express Entry profile. Your profile will receive a score, based on various factors according to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), and will be placed into a pool with other eligible candidates. If you’re one of the top candidates, you’ll get an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency.

You’ll have 60 days to either accept or decline your invitation. If you don’t get an ITA, don't worry. Your profile will remain in the draw pool for at least one year or until you receive an ITA.

How the CEC Has Been Affected by the Pandemic

two women wearing masks giving elbow bump | How to Apply for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

The CEC has recently seen a lot of applications, especially since the pandemic hit, resulting in all program draws coming to a temporary halt. In 2021, the CEC accounted for a whopping 85 percent of completed Express Entry applications. Both CEC and PNP applicants were prioritized up until recently. Although the IRCC are well on their way to hitting their quota of inviting 108,500 skilled workers through Express Entry programs, it’s determined to make sure that there’s a substantial decrease in the current backlog of CEC applications.

Earlier this year, on February 13, the IRCC invited a historic 27,332 CEC candidates with CRS cut-off scores of just 75 points! This was also to help alleviate the backlog. Although it’s not for certain, we could be seeing something similar as there are currently 14,000 CEC applications waiting to be processed every month. Between January and October 2021, IRCC issued 108,860 COPRs to CEC applicants, making Canadian Experience Class applicants the highest beneficiaries of the Express Entry system so far this year.

FAQs: Canadian Experience Class

Indian man sitting thinking on couch | How to Apply for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

1. Does self-employment and student work experience count towards the Canadian Experience Class?

Unfortunately, work experience gained for self employed work or work when you were a full-time student doesn’t count towards the CEC.

2. Does work experience obtained on a Post-Graduation Work Permit or part-time work count toward the CEC?

”Experience gained on a PGWP is valid for CEC. Part-time work could be valid but it will be counted according to the percentage of hours worked, meaning that if someone worked half the amount of hours in their part-time position as they would in a fulltime position, they will have to show 2 years of experience (part-time work) in that position instead of 1 years experience (fulltime work).” - David Allon

3. How long does a CEC application take?

Because the Canadian Experience Class is managed by the Express Entry system it could take as little as six to eight months to process 80 percent of applications, however this depends on the program you apply through. CEC currently has the fastest processing times.

4. How many points do I need for the Canadian Experience Class?

This is dependent on the score of other applicants in your draw pool as an average is taken to determine the cut off score. As new applicants continually enter the draw pool, the cut off score continually changes. In 2021, the highest CRS cut-off score was 462 and the lowest was a record-breaking 75 points in a draw held on February 13, 2021 where an incredible 27,332 ITAs were issued! The average CRS score for 2021, to date, is 379 over a total of 16 draws(excluding this anomaly mentioned previously).

5. Does the CEC require WES?

No, both the CEC and FSWP are exempt from this requirement however FSTP applicants will require WES to get Canada PR through Express Entry. WES is an accredited provider of ECAs for Canadian immigration and applicants are only required to have their highest qualifications assessed.

6. How many pay stubs do I need for CEC?

You don’t need any paystubs, but you can use them as proof of employment to gain extra CRS points. Sometimes, they can be handy if you were paid hourly wage instead of a salary or if your hours vary due to part-time employment hours. This can be used as proof to confirm the number of hours worked over the course of one year. You will need a minimum of 1,560 hours over a period of 12 months, which can be full-time, part-time or a combination of both. Proof of work experience can be a combination of employment reference letters, pay stubs and tax records (T4).

Ready to put your experience to work in Canada? With the help of the trusted professionals we work with, your visa application will be stress-free making your move to Canada a great experience.